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Trends Microbiol. 2005 Sep;13(9):411-5.

Cultivating the uncultivated: a community genomics perspective.

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Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Current isolation methods access only a small subset of the total microbial diversity. Although an isolate traditionally has been required for genomic characterization, the advent of sequencing of entire natural microbial communities enables culture-independent genomic analysis. Information about the genetic potential of uncultivated organisms can be used to predict the form of metabolic interdependencies and nutritional requirements. We believe that this could provide the information necessary to bypass bottlenecks that have inhibited cultivation of many microorganisms. However, it might not be practical or possible to isolate all of the vast number of microbial species and strains for laboratory-based characterization. Ultimately, cultivation-independent genomic and genomically enabled approaches could provide a way to directly analyze microbial activity in its geochemical and ecological context.

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